Posted by By John Egbokhan on
The man, whom Flying Eaglesí star, John Mikel Obi confessed groomed him for the big stage, coach Ayeni of Pepsi Academy is poverty-stricken.
Bauchi ó The man, whom Flying Eaglesí star, John Mikel Obi confessed groomed him for the big stage, coach Ayeni of Pepsi Academy is poverty-stricken.
In an emotional and tearful interview with Sports Vanguard in Jos, Plateau State, coach Ayeni, who equipped Mikel Obi with the necessary weaponry to dazzle in the midfield, confessed that all is not well with him and his family.
"Life has been very tough with us, we are just living by the grace and mercies of God, who has been so profound in supplying our needs the way He only knows best how to do. But left for me, this life has been wicked to me because after all the efforts one has made to the development of football in this country, it is a shame that one is still battling with poverty", said coach Ayeni, who said that Mikel Obi has been avoiding him since he came back from Holland, where he shone like a million stars with the silver-medal winning Flying Eagles squad.
"Mikel confessed to everybody that I was instrumental in his career but the fruits of my labour are sadly missing because Mikel, has been shunning me like a leper, ever since he came back from Holland. It is a shame that a player, who never dreamt of coming into affluence, does not recognise the little contributions of people like me. I am so sad", coach Ayeni told Sports Vanguard in Asmara Hotel in Jos.
Coach Ayeniís sordid confession was told in the presence of top official of the Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), Ben Ekpo, who wondered aloud how Mikel Obi could forget about his roots in such a short time of romancing with fame that comes with doing well in the game of soccer.
Ekpo, the image maker of YSFON, advised Obi and other top Nigerian players who are excelling in European leagues not to forget about the blocks that built them back in their struggling days in Nigeria.
"It is really a shame that our players seem to forget how to recognise the little efforts that organisations such as ours and other coaches in the land contributed to their progress. They should give back to the community through organisation of competitions and at times, support coaches that moulded them.
"They should emulate George Weah and Ronaldo, who never forgot their past and in fact, are still helping those who helped them", said Ekpo.
On his part, coach Ayeni, who hailed Mikel Obiís exploits at the WYC, said the player should remember him during these trying times.
"I need his support, nothing is too small because I am broke", said coach Ayeni.
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